Masabumi Kikuchi, piano; Gary Peacock, bass; Paul Motian, drums
This is the second outing of this trio of subdued giants to be released on Germany's excellent Winter and Winter label; on it, they rework the music of chanteuse Edith Piaf. The album sets out with a crispness which often dissolves, but the genius of the trio is that when the music does intensify, it seems accidental: the looseness of the playing crystallizes around one voicing, say, or the tempo of a single measure. This way, the trio manages to convince us we've heard the crux of each piece. All of this effect comes from the fact that the trio epitomizes the idea of cooperation. Motian contributes a field of rhythms here which alternatingly drive and temper the music; Peacock's playing is, as always, supple, roomy, and astonishing in its incorporation of melody. Kikuchi returns to the charts by surprise (and usually with piercing clarity), only to warmly surround them with improvisation. His groaning and yelping, though, become annoying at times. Piaf's music well suits the setting, and each of the pieces (including "L'homme de Berlin," and "Bravo pour le clown") are done in the simultaneously open and intimate style these three have mastered.
by Jason Morris
New Sounds - CD Reviews March 2000